H.R.H. Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands at Global Child Forum 2018

H.R.H. Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands at Global Child Forum 2018


Fauza and Kesia, your Majesties, your Royal Highnesses, dear friends Terima kasih (Thank you in Indonesian) Fauza and Kesia, for reminding us why we’re here today You are so brave Look at me. I stand behind this lectern, and you stand there so proudly in front of all of us, and it’s humbling Today is about collaboration. It’s about pledges it’s about action around the broad movement concerning all aspects of child well-being And of course ultimately about the world, because that’s what we’re talking about and I will just focus on one aspect: child inclusion in decision-making Now, I’m often asked why we should make child protection measures a priority when there’s so many different issues And I’m often asked why we should listen to children There’s only one answer to that question and it is: Why not? Why not – if it is indeed as was mentioned part of the Universal Declaration and Convention on the Rights of the Child, article 12 Why not – if they are our future parents, consumers, employees, clients, and why not – if what we do today as adults determines the state of the planet decades from now We’re only here for a very short time Who is here longer than we are – isn’t it logical to include children in what we decide today? They have to live with the consequences Why not – because children are much more than the future, as we adults like to talk about children If you listen to the Polish pedagogue, the late polish pedagogue, Janusz Korczak he said children are not just people of the future. They are citizens of today, and I believe in that We adults, we seem so obsessed with framing children’s rights as a business case Yes, of course we need to formulate why it is relevant But this business framing should also make us a little bit uncomfortable It should make us realize that somehow we’re hijacked by the wrong paradigm by the paradigm of short-term interests versus long-term value and prosperity for people and the planet I believe we should move away from the paradigm that business is based solely on profits and not principles The 17 SDGs should help us redress that balance and you as visionary business leaders also have the power to redress that balance But in all honesty I’m not so sure that we as adults are fully capable of holding ourselves accountable to achieving those goals Because of all the why not’s that I mentioned, I believe children – they need to be included like young people to remind us of the morality and the long-term impact of our decisions today Young people remind us of the impact of our decisions on the lives of children of families and communities, like Fauza and Kesia were talking about Children are drivers of change and we can only stand again if we include them as equal stakeholders Just like we see other people as stakeholders, customers, suppliers, civil society players, politicians Now, I have the privilege to live with one leg in the world of children and with one leg in the world of adults having founded Missing Chapter Foundation to facilitate dialogue between decision-makers and children of 9 to 12 years old And we’re happy, and it didn’t start like that, it always started with one company so this is where movement starts. We now have over 100 leading companies in the Netherlands that have a children’s board Just like the spark that was mentioned in the movie They are going into the boardrooms, and we are starting now to work with municipalities Children don’t solve the issues, but they light that fire, and they bring the moral ideas back into the boardroom And we also experience every day how difficult it is to bridge the gap and the worlds between children and adults, and how everyone gains by setting and bridging that gap, but it is no easy task There are different languages that two worlds speak So what does it take in my idea for adults to see children as equal stakeholders? Believe in the end, it just comes down to one small word, but has a huge meaning It is our ability as adults to be humbled But the older we get the more we think we know Humbled to let go of thinking we have all the answers and acknowledge the superiority of children when it comes to imagination and creativity Humbled to dare to look into the mirror of the moral questions that make us so uncomfortable Humbled to acknowledge our deep and long, long responsibility And humbled to seriously consider the recommendations that children come up with and do change business as usual even if we don’t like the recommendations The ability of adults, businesses, parents, teachers, politicians to truly hear what children say Be surprised by them and be influenced by them is a symbol of our own integrity, transparency, openness and ultimately our individual and collective leadership Learning to see children as equals forms the basis of respect and respect will hopefully change our attitude of power play and change the norm when it comes to all forms of exploitation and misbehavior towards children Slavery, abuse, neglect – the list is so long, and I am ashamed You and I, we’re all translators between the worlds of children and adults We each have our own perspectives But do please let us join in cooperation None of us has the answer alone And in doing so we need to understand the nuances and listen between the lines what we each are saying And I’d like to highlight very briefly three nuances that in my work come up One is protection versus empowerment How do we balance children’s vulnerability and their unrivaled force for change and sharp insights on the other hand? Participation versus inclusion Do we decide on policies, then children can speak up to to react on them, or do we dare to co-create solutions with children since they can advise us firsthand on solutions and work in practice Finally, integrity versus what I would call kidswashing, like the greenwashing What does it take for child inclusion to be real and to have real impact and become mainstream and not marginal? In conclusion, I pledge to be part of this global movement where business acts as an agent for change and for good And I would add, and this is my call to action for you, doing so in equal partnership with children so that they can help us find solutions and be accountable to our commitments As part of this movement, my personal mission and that of Missing Chapter and the thousands of children that we work with, is that child inclusion becomes the new normal Movements, we know, can only be built together So thank you, your Majesties, for bringing us all together and making sure that we act individually and collectively allowing children to hold us accountable for our commitments And to end with a quote of children – today is also about innovation, and not the definition that we adults hold that we share what we know, but children say “innovation is sharing what you don’t know.” Thank you

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